The Pitfalls of Holiday Shopping

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? Unfortunately, as holiday cheer spreads, so do online shopping scams. Criminals are counting on you being so excited about big deals and sales, that you ignore the red flags that often come along with these scams.

holiday shopping

Think Before You Click

Say you get an email from your favorite retailer offering an unbelievable deal. No other store comes close to matching the price! All you have to do is click the link to get the deal. You may be suspicious, but it’s an incredible deal. You click. You’re asked to log in to the site with your username and password. You do so, but then an error page pops up.

Do you know what just happened? You just got phished for the login to your favorite retailer. Someone may be able to place orders under your name to a different address. Or worse – if you’ve reused that password, the scammer may hack other accounts, too. Remember, when an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Other Online Shopping Dangers

Online shopping jumps dramatically during the holiday season. It means it’s an ideal time for criminals to hijack retailers. Cyber attacks that steal credit card information through malicious code on a retailer’s checkout page are collectively known as Magecart. Major companies such as Ticketmaster and British Airways have been hit with these attacks. It’s impossible for the end user to detect, so we have to rely on online retailers to stay vigilant about cyber attacks.

Choose Wisely and Stay Alert

We can’t guarantee our safety online, but we can make smart choices. Here is some advice for safer shopping this holiday season.

  • Shop with companies that have strong security practices. Avoid sites you’ve never heard of, even if they have good reviews and great prices.
  • Consider safer payments like credit cards and PayPal, GooglePay, or other mobile payment provider. These methods offer the buyer some protections against fraud, unlike a debit card or direct payment from a checking account.
  • Check your credit card statements regularly and carefully in order to catch fraud early.
  • Use secure wifi when conducting financial transactions. Free wifi is usually unsecured, so do your shopping while at home or through your data plan’s connection.

Keep these tips in mind when shopping online this holiday season!

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